Review By Frances Winston
Directed by: Mona Fastvold – Starring: Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby, Christopher Abbott, Casey Affleck
In cinemas now!
Set in 1856, this period-drama sees Abigail (Waterston) and Dyer (Affleck) living an isolated life in the country. Ekeing out an existence working as farmers, they are devastated when their daughter dies. Growing ever more distant, the couple barely communicate. When a new couple moves in beside them (this is the countryside so beside is a rather loose concept) Abigail finds herself drawn to the wife, Tallie (Kirby) and the two soon begin an affair. But marital and gender politics of the time are not on their side.
This forbidden love story will be familiar to many. It is somewhat Broke-back Mountain with women. It looks beautiful – the country setting allowing for some stunning cinematography. And the cast do an excellent job. Kirby in particular is wonderful, and shows that there is far more to her than her most famous role of Princess Margaret in the Crown.
The story is told primarily from Waterston’s character’s point of view, and utilises voice-over, rather than character interaction, to tell the audience what is going on. There is a lot of exposition using this method. Indeed, at times, this method of storytelling makes it feel a bit dense.
However, there are enough dramatic tangents to keep viewers engaged, and you do find yourself wanting to see this through to the end. This also, wisely, avoids using the women’s relationship to titillate, and it feels quite authentic and organic. This is definitely down to the fact that a woman directed this. I could see a male director absolutely exploiting their scenes together.
This isn’t high drama. It is rather a slow burner that creeps into your psyche. It’s a beautiful film, but not very exciting. It demands your attention, and will stick with you long after the credits roll. Not quite the modern classic that it seems to want to be, but a satisfying watch nonetheless.